When I was 29, I joined the Navy to be a psychologist. On August 7, 1999 I was Carrie Kennedy, standard U.S. citizen and financially-impaired graduate student. On August 8, 1999 I became LT Carrie Kennedy, Naval Officer. The transition from civilian to military officer is a pretty big one and no one can expect you to think about all of the many changes that are going to happen. One thing I didn't think about when I commissioned, is that people would address me as ma'am. Where I grew up, teachers and your grandmothers are ma'ams (assuming you are on your best behavior), not graduate students. It made me uncomfortable. A female LT returns a salute from an enlisted male Sailor. It is unknown if he called her sir or ma’am. Source: Michelle Koster, by permission So, imagine my surprise the first time someone called me sir. On the way towards the full integration of women in the military, is a constant string of sub-events that speaks to the state of that integration. And no one prepares you for most of these in officer training. If you are a woman, one of these intangibles is that you will be called sir…. Read full this story
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